#India – Mental Health Care Bill cleared by Cabinet

Music and Mental Health

The Union Cabinet  cleared the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 that makes access to mental health care a right of all persons

Submitted on Fri, 06/14/2013 – 16:55

The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 that makes access to mental health care a right of all persons. Such services should be affordable, of good quality and available without discrimination, it said. The proposed law decriminalises suicide.

The Bill, in consonance with international laws, has the provision of Advance Directives — described as a progressive and far-sighted step. No person who has recorded an Advance Directive to State that he or she should not be admitted to a facility without consent can be so admitted.

A rights-based Bill also has a provision wherein a person with mental illness can appoint a nominated representative to take decisions for him or her. Under the provisions of the Bill, government has an obligation to provide half way homes, community caring centres and other shelters for mentally ill people. This has been planned under the District Mental Health Programme in the 12th Plan.

In 2005, the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health reported that 10-12 million or one to two per cent of the population suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and nearly 50 million or five per cent from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, yielding an overall estimate of 6.5 per cent of the population. The prevalence of mental disorders was higher among women, those who were homeless, poor and living in urban areas, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told The Hindu.

The new Bill, once approved by Parliament, will repeal the Mental Health Act, 1987, which had vested extraordinary power in the hands of the treating psychiatrists. There was enough evidence of misuse and unscrupulous families collaborating with psychiatrists in addition to badly functional or non-functional Central and Mental Health Authorities primarily because of lack of funds.

Under the proposed new law, there is provision for voluntary admission with supported admission limited to specific circumstances; appeals can be made to the Mental Health Review Commission, which will also review all admission beyond 30 days and free care for all homeless, destitute and poor people suffering from mental disorder. The Bill provides right to confidentiality and protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in addition to right to live in a community and legal aid. It bans the electric-convulsive therapy without anesthesia and restricts psychosurgery, Mr. Azad said.

He said the Bill tries to address the needs of the families and caregivers, and the needs of the homeless mentally ill. It provides for setting up Central and State Mental Health Authorities, which would act as administrative bodies, while the Mental Health Review Commission would be a quasi-judicial body to oversee the functioning of mental health facilities and protect the rights of persons with mental illness in mental health facilities.

Credit and Source: The Hindu


जगजीत सिंह, उद्धव ठाकरे और रमन सिंह करते हैं मजदूरी !

smart cards ‘reveal’ Jagjit Singh, Uddhav are labourers in MP

जगजीत सिंह, रमन सिंह, और उद्धव ठाकरे की तस्वीरों वाले नरेगा के स्मार्ट कार्ड।

टाइम्स ऑफ इंडिया | May 17, 2013, 01.03PM IST

भोपाल।। छत्तीसगढ़ के मुख्यमंत्री रमन सिंह, शिवसेना के नेता उद्धव ठाकरे और स्वर्गीय गजल गायक जगजीत सिंह मनरेगा के मजदूर हैं! मध्य प्रदेश के रेवा जिले में महात्मा गांधी राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण रोजगार गांरटी स्कीम (मनरेगा) के कुछ स्मार्ट कार्ड देखकर आप भी हैरान रह जाएंगे।

मनरेगा स्कीम के तहत बैंक से पेमेंट के लिए बनाए गए स्थानीय लोगों के नाम वाले इन स्मार्ट कार्ड्स में तस्वीरें जानी-मानी हस्तियों की छपी हैं। ये कार्ड यूनियन बैंक ऑफ इंडिया ने 2009-10 में जारी किए थे। बैंक ने ये कार्ड FINO नाम की कंपनी से बनवाए थे।

कार्ड्स में बड़ा गड़बड़झाला है। एक कार्ड कैथा गांव के मंगल सेन के नाम से जारी किया गया है। लेकिन उस पर छत्तीसगढ़ के सीएम रमन सिंह की तस्वीर लगी है। इसी तरह गांव के राहुल दुबे के नाम से जारी कार्ड में स्वर्गीय जगजीत सिंह की फोटो है। उधर, रेवा के जिला कलेक्टर शिव नारायण रुपाला को इसमें धांधली का खेल नजर नहीं आता। उन्होंने कहा कि अगर ये कार्ड्स जालसाजी के लिए इरादे से बनाए गए होते तो इनमें जानी-मानी हस्तियों की तस्वीरें नहीं लगाई जातीं। रुपाला ने कहा इस इस मामले की जांच के लिए यूनियन बैंक के असिस्टेंट जनरल मैनेजर को निर्देश दिए गए हैं।

दूसरी तरफ यूबीआई के एजीएम एस.के. सिंह को इसकी पीछे कार्ड बनाने वाली कंपनी के किसी कर्मचारी की शरारत नजर आ रही है। उन्होंने कहा कि स्मार्ट कार्ड में लाभार्थी का फिंगरप्रिंट रेकॉर्ड भी होता है। इसलिए पहली नजर में उन्हें नहीं लगता कि इन कार्ड्स पर कोई पेमेंट हुआ होगा। उन्होंने इसका दोष कार्ड बनाने वाली कंपनी FINO पर मढ़ते हुए कहा कि गलती उनकी ओर से है। कंपनी के किसी कर्मचारी ने यह शरारत की है।

उन्होंने कहा कि इन कार्ड्स की डीटेल्स बैंक और FINO के सर्वर में नहीं है। ये कार्ड बैंक से लिंक भी नहीं है। उन्होंने कहा कि फिर भी इन कार्ड्स की पेमेंट डीटेल्स मांगी गई हैं। अगर कोई दोषी पाया जाता है तो उसके खिलाफ कार्रवाई की जाएगी।

उधर, FINO कंपनी के एक पूर्व कर्मचारी स्वप्न कुमार तिवारी ने कहा कि इसके पीछे करप्शन का खेल हो सकता है। आईटी एक्सपर्ट की मदद से इसकी जांच की जानी चाहिए। उन्होंने कहा कि इस गड़बड़ी को उजागर करने के बाद जून में कंपनी ने उन्हें सस्पेंड कर दिया था।


#India – Mentally ill held captive in asylum without licence #WTFnews

Christin Mathew Philip & Pratiksha Ramkumar, TNN Apr 29, 2013,

CHENNAI: Hidden behind 15ft-high compound walls is an 80-bed privately run home for the mentally ill in Urapakkam, 50km from the city. The home, Oxford Charitable Trust, has around 100 patients, but has not renewed its government licence for more than seven years.

“We have not issued a licence to them. They are not registered with us as a private nursing home for the mentally ill,” confirmed Dr C Jayaprakash, director of the government Institute of Mental Health (IMH). As per the law, a private mental health nursing or rehabilitation home needs a licence from the IMH or the state mental health authority. The licence has to be renewed every three years.

While there are 30 licensed private nursing homes for the mentally ill in the city, there are a number of centres that operate without licences or regulation.

Oxford Charitable Trust functions out of a white-washed building. The only entrance is a 6ft high blue gate, which is usually locked. TOI managed to gain entry into the building and found a kitchen with women cutting vegetables and stirring watery sambar. Further inside is a courtyard, surrounded by locked rooms with small windows. On the first floor are women watching television while quietly eating sambar and rice.

It could pass off for an old-age home, but residents of Urapakkam say sounds of “women shouting or crying loudly at odd hours” suggest otherwise. “They hit us if we cry, shout or try to escape,” said former inmate K Rizmiya, who has filed a petition in the Madras high court against her husband who admitted her there.

“The staff would force us to take strong sedatives at night or inject us with medicine to put us to sleep for five days if we shouted,” said Rizmiya. She protested the day she was admitted, and woke up in the same spot five days later drenched in her own urine and feces.

Oxford Charitable Trust does not fulfill the prerequisites for a mental health nursing home as per the State Mental Health Rules, 1990. “They need a psychiatrist on call and a full-time psychologist and registered social workers,” says Dr Sathyanathan, former director, IMH. “They need to have an emergency care unit and an electro-convulsive therapy facility,” he said.

The owners describe Oxford Charitable Trust as a home for the mentally ill. “We charge Rs 6,000 a month without medicines,” says one of the owners, G Ramkumar. “We take care of the patient as long as the guardians want us to.” They require a “medical history report and prescription of medicines” for admission.

Rizmiya said brokers who hang around IMH falsify medical certificates and admit people in to the home.

Achieving parity between mental and physical health

Whole-person care: from rhetoric to reality


English: An American Lady butterfly against a ...


Royal College of Psychiatrists –UK – March 2013


Available online PDF [95p.] at: http://bit.ly/YFvjwS 




“…..In our society mental health does not receive the same attention as physical health. People with mental health problems frequently experience stigma and discrimination, not only in the wider community but also from services. This is exemplified in part by lower treatment rates for mental health conditions and an underfunding of mental healthcare relative to the scale and impact of mental health problems….”
Professor Sue Bailey, FRCPsych, OBE President, The Royal College of Psychiatrists




“…..This report should be seen as the first stage of an ongoing process over the next 5–10 years that will deliver parity for mental health and make whole-person care a reality. It builds on the Implementation Framework for the Mental Health Strategy in providing further analysis of why parity does not currently exist, and the actions required to bring it about.


A ‘parity approach’ should enable NHS and local authority health and social care services to provide a holistic, ‘whole person’ response to each individual, whatever their needs, and should ensure that all publicly funded services, including those provided by private organisations, give people’s mental health equal status to their physical health needs.


Central to this approach is the fact that there is a strong relationship between mental health and physical health, and that this influence works in both directions. Poor mental health is associated with a greater risk of physical health problems, and poor physical health is associated with a greater risk of mental health problems. Mental health affects physical health and viceversa…  “..[AU]






Key recommendations


Terms of reference and methodology


Definition and vision for parity of esteem


The funding gap: disparity in funding for mental health


The treatment gap: disparity in access to treatment for mental health problems


NHS Outcomes Framework Domain 1: Preventing people from dying prematurely


NHS Outcomes Framework Domain 2: Enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions


NHS Outcomes Framework Domain 3: Helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury


NHS Outcomes Framework Domain 4: Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care


NHS Outcomes Framework Domain 5: Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm


A life-course approach: early intervention, children and young people and older people


Measurement and monitoring of parity: data, research, audit and inspection


A cross-government approach to parity


Annexe A1. Lester UK Adaptation: Positive Cardiometabolic Health Resource


Annexe A2. Programme for implementing the Lester UK Adaptation


Annexe B. Summary of recommendations for parity


Annexe C. Parity commitments from working group member organisations, Royal Colleges and others






हाथों की लकीरें मिट गईं तो कैसे बने आधार कार्ड? #Aadhaar #UID #biometrics



मजदूर जिसने बयां की ‘आधार’ की कहानी

 नवभारत टाइम्स | Feb 25, 2013, 06.52PM IST

एसपी रावत


कुरुक्षेत्र।। कंप्यूटर ने एक ओर जहां इंसान के कई कामों को आसान बना दिया है, वहीं दिन-रात मजदूरी करके अपने परिवार का पेट पालने वाले हजारों मजदूरों के लिए यह मुसीबत बन गया है। कंप्यूटर मजदूरों के हाथों की उन लकीरें को नहीं पढ़ पा रहा है जो रात-दिन मजदूरी करने के बाद धुंधली पड़ गई हैं।


हरियाणा के यमुनानगर जिले के मजदूरों को उस वक्त निराशा हाथ लगी जब अधिकारियों ने कहा कि जब तक कंप्यूटर उनके हाथों की लकीरों को नहीं पढ़ेगा तब तक उनका ‘आधार कार्ड’ नहीं बन सकता।


गौरतलब है कि आजकल पूरे देश में आधार कार्ड बनाए जाने की प्रक्रिया चल रही है। उसी के तहत यमुनानगर जिला में भी जगह-जगह पर आधार कार्ड बनाने का काम चल रहा है। आधार कार्ड बनाने वाले अधिकारियों और कर्मचारियों का कहना है कि काम करते-करते मेहनतकश लोगों के हाथों की रेखाएं ही मिट गई हैं। इन हस्तरेखाओं को ही पैमाना मानकर आधार कार्ड बनाया जा रहा है।





अधिकारियों का कहना है कि बार-बार मजदूरों की हस्तरेखाएं लेने की कोशिश की गई, लेकिन कंप्यूटर पर रेखाएं न दिखने की वजह से उनका आधार कार्ड नहीं बन सकता। अब इसे मजदूरों की किस्मत का खेल कहें या मजबूरी? क्योंकि दिनरात मेहनत कर जो हाथ झोंपड़ी से लेकर महल तक का निर्माण करते हैं आज उन्हें ही उनके हक से महरूम रखा जा रहा है।


आधार कार्ड बनाने वाले कर्मचारी कहते हैं कि जब इन मजदूरों के हाथ की उंगलियों के निशान लेने के लिए इनके हाथों को कंप्यूटर पर रखा जाता है तो कोई रेखा नजर नहीं आती है। मजदूर दर्शन सिंह और राजेंद्र प्रसाद का कहना है कि इसमें हमारा तो कोई कसूर नहीं है। हम तो अपना और अपने परिवार का पेट पालने के लिए मेहनत मजदूरी करते हैं। देश भर में चल रहे निर्माण कार्यों में मजदूरों की अहम भूमिका है। अगर हम अपने हाथ की रेखाओं को देखेंगे तो हमें कोई मजदूरी पर नहीं रखेगा।


उन्होंने कहा कि सरकार को कोई ऐसी व्यवस्था करनी चाहिए जिससे उन्हें भी आधार कार्ड का लाभ मिले सके। उधर, यमुनानगर के डीआईओ रमेश गुप्ता का कहना है कि यूनिक आइडेंटिफिकेशन के लिए आधार कार्ड बनाए जा रहे हैं और इसके लिए आइब्रोज़, फिंगरप्रिंट और आईडी प्रूफ की जरूरत होती है। मजदूरों के आधार कार्ड बायॉमैट्रिक्स स्कैन न होने के कारण नहीं बन पा रहे हैं लेकिन यूआईडी के दूसरे वर्जन में यह कमी दूर कर ली जाएगी। भारत में सबके आधार कार्ड बनेंगे, हां इसमें कुछ समय लग सकता है।


उन्होंने बताया कि यमुनानगर में 10 से 12 जगहों के अलावा कई इंस्टिट्यूट में भी आधार कार्ड बन रहे हैं। भविष्य में डायरेक्ट ट्रांसफर स्कीम के तहत एससी और ओबीसी बच्चों का स्टाइपेंड उनके खाते में आएगा। उन्होंने बताया कि यमुनानगर में अब तक लगभग डेढ़ से दो लाख आधार कार्ड बन चुके हैं। खासतौर पर यमुनानगर और पानीपत में मजदूरों की संख्या काफी अधिक है। फ़ॉरेंसिक एक्सपर्ट्स का कहना है कि अपराध के मामले में 15-20 प्रतिशत लकीरें आने से भी काम चल जाता है लेकिन आधार कार्ड के मामले में यह नियम लागू नहीं है।


Damned lives and statistics

Damned lives and 
By Gunjan Sharma, The Week
Story Dated: Monday, May 21, 2012 15:51 hrs IST

The horrid state of mental health care in India 
can drive one insane. Does anyone care?

Anybody out there? A patient at Mental Hospital, Varanasi. Photo by Gunjan Sharma

It is a hot, humid afternoon at Lumbini Park Mental Hospital in Kolkata. About 30 male patients in tattered clothes huddle in a dormitory. The stench from the lavatory  next to it is nauseating. On the next floor, two female patients lie sprawled on the narrow corridor outside a female dormitory.
Things are no different at another state-run hospital in the city, Pavlov Mental Hospital, where about 400 patients share 250 beds. Patients at a severe stage of mental illness are locked up in 4x5ft cells, with an Indian-style closet—they eat sitting next to it. And to kill body lice, says a hospital employee, patients are stripped and sprayed with insecticides meant to kill cockroaches.
The pathetic and horrible condition is compounded by inhumanity: “The funds that come to the hospital for food, clothing and mattresses are siphoned off by the officials. They even take home the bedspreads and curtains,” alleges an employee.
The hospital looks nice from the outside, but it has no rehabilitation facilities to engage patients in vocational training. As a result, even patients who become stable lose their cognitive abilities and succumb to negative symptoms such as withdrawal, lack of concentration, reduced productivity and, eventually, lack of will to live.
“A lot of cosmetic measures have been taken in the past two years to improve the overall look of the compound,” says an official, “but the patients still live in inhuman conditions.”
Mental Hospital, Varanasi, was conceived as a jail in 1809 for criminals with mental illness. Today, only 54 of 290 patients are prisoners, yet the same old colonial rules are followed.
Patients live in stinking barracks. The cells have no fans, even as the temperature soars over 40 degrees Celsius. Patients are forced to sleep on the dirty floor, as there are no beds in most wards. And thanks to the strict adherence to the old ‘jail manual’, patients spend over 17 hours a day in the lockup, without any recreational facilities.
The ‘jail’ authorities thrash the patients if they demand basic facilities, says a patient in the male ward. “We don’t even get sufficient food,” he says.
The hospital has about 300 in-patients and handles as many out-patients a day, but has just two psychiatrists. No nurse, no clinical psychologist, no occupational therapist, no social worker.
“For the 24 years that I have been here, nothing has been done to improve the living conditions of the patients,” says a senior doctor at the hospital.
Be it West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Maharashtra, most state-run mental hospitals are in a deplorable state. According to the National Human Rights Commission, there are only 43 government mental hospitals in India, of which hardly half a dozen are in a “livable” condition.
“The NHRC was asked to report on the condition of mental hospitals in the 90s. We brought out our first report in 1999; the condition of most mental hospitals was shocking. Even after a decade, it remains the same,” says P.C. Sharma, member, NHRC. “It shows the government’s attitude towards the mental health care in the country.”
In fact, the NHRC’s reports in 1999 and 2011 look almost identical. Most hospitals lacked, and still lack, even clean water and ventilation. Many hospital buildings are in a dilapidated state, as they were colonial structures, mostly jails.
Take the case of Bangur Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata. Patients here still live in the same dark, damp, dirty jail cells. Forget rehab activities for the patients. “If a bulb blows, it takes five days to get it replaced,” says a voluntary psychologist at the hospital.
Posing as the daughter of a patient, I ask this social worker whether I should admit him in the hospital. “It is nothing more than a jail,” he says. “It will only deteriorate your father’s condition; it is not for people like you.”
In its 2011 report on the Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata, NHRC’s then special rapporteur Dr Lakshimidhar Mishra writes: “Around 12 noon I inspected the dining hall of the Institute of Psychiatry. About 10 in-patients were taking lunch which comprised about 100g of rice, 50g of dal (mostly watery), a potato and mixed vegetable curry and a small piece of fish. There was no salad and no other fried vegetable, spinach or fruit.”  The nutritive value of the aforesaid meal is 1,500 cal; a normal human being needs at least 2,500 cal.
Mental Hospital, Indore, hardly looks like a hospital from the outside. The male ward, with a dozen patients, is dusty. The window panes are broken. Lavatories, as expected, are stinking, and many of them in the female wards do not have doors.
In the book Mental Health Care and Human Rights released in 2008, the NHRC notes, “Mental Hospital, Indore, is in a highly deplorable state in almost all aspects of human care. Evidence of chaining patients, clinical abuse and active neglect are seen.” Things are almost the same even today. Quite understandably, hospital superintendent Dr Ramgulam Razdan bars me from talking to patients and staff.
“The new building is under construction and we will shift all the patients in three to four months,” he says. “This building had a thatched roof when I took take charge in 1998. Lack of political will delays reforms.”

Can we afford the delay?
At least 10 crore people suffer from mental illness in India. About one crore need hospitalisation. There are just 43 government mental hospitals, most of them in a pitiable condition. There are only 4,000 psychiatrists in the country; 70 per cent of them practise in private hospitals in urban areas.
There is a severe shortage of paramedics, too. In 2008, according to an NHRC report, a single psychiatrist was found manning the 331-bed hospital in Varanasi. There were no sanctioned posts of general medicine officer, clinical psychologist, psychiatry social worker, occupational therapist, dietician and nurses. Four years down the line, all that the hospital has got is an additional psychiatrist.
Furthermore, over 30 per cent posts of psychiatric nurses are lying vacant in most mental hospitals across the country. Besides, there is a severe shortage of grade D staff, who are responsible for the day-to-day care of the hospitals and patients. And at most of these hospitals, electroconvulsive therapy is still given without anaesthesia, as there are no anaesthetists available.
“The problem,” Mishra says, “is in the attitude of authorities managing these hospitals. Most of the hospitals in India are not managed by psychiatrists. So they don’t understand the complexities of mental health care.”
For instance, Mental Hospital, Varanasi, is managed by Dr K.K. Singh, an ENT surgeon. There are physicians and even gynaecologists who are in charge of mental hospitals. “These doctors don’t understand the intricacies of a psychiatric illnesses and the comprehensive care the patients require,” says a psychiatrist working in a state-run mental hospital in UP.

Calculation gone wrong
In 2010-11, the Central budget allocation for the mental health programme was just Rs103 crore—less than 1 per cent of the total health expenditure. According to the World Health Organisation, about 10 per cent of any country’s population suffers from some form of psychiatric disorder at any given time. And one in every four persons suffers from some mental disorder at some point of time in life.
Even if we consider that a conservative 7 per cent of India’s population suffers from some mental disorder at a given time, it amounts to about 8 crore people. “That means we have a budget of Rs13 per mentally-ill patient per year, when at least Rs500 per patient per month is required to provide at least basic medicines, food and shelter,” says Tapas Ray, founder of Sevac, a Kolkata-based NGO.
A senior officer, who has worked in the Mental Health Cell of the Union ministry of health and family welfare, says mental health has never been a priority of the government. The District Mental Health Programme, introduced in 1982, remained on paper till 1996, when the government finally launched it in 27 districts across the country with a budget of Rs27 crore. Today, the programme has managed to cover just 123 districts, with 40 per cent posts lying vacant.
The problem is not shortage of funds, says a senior ministry official; there are times when the states return the money, as they couldn’t utilise it, he adds. “There should be a close monitoring of mental hospitals. But unfortunately, there is no manpower to do even that. We do have the Central Mental Health Authority, but its members have not met for the past three years. There is similar official apathy at the state level, too.”
The Comptroller and Auditor-General slammed the previous V.S. Achuthanandan government in Kerala for not utilising Rs4.07 crore of the alloted Rs9.98 crore. That, in a state where prevalence of mental disorders is almost three times the national average.


Caught between fate 
and faith

With the medical system in a mess and awareness about mental disorders lacking, faith healers and quacks are making hay. According to a study by Dr Shiv Gautam, former superintendent of Mental Hospital, Jaipur, 68 per cent of mentally ill people are taken to faith healers before a psychiatrist.
“The reason, besides superstition, is that most general medicine doctors fail to diagnose psychiatric illness,” says Gautam. Apparently, psychiatry is not a separate subject in the MBBS curriculum, and there are just 11-12 lectures on the stream.
“Moreover, there are hardly 250 postgraduation seats in psychiatry, and most of the pass-outs opt for jobs abroad,” says Dr Sunil Mittal, director, Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Delhi. “In fact, there are more Indian psychiatrists in the US than in India.”
Many patients initially consult a general physician during the onset of a mental disorder, and if that doctor fails to diagnose the problem correctly, generally the next option is faith healing, which, professionals say, is hogwash. “A mentally ill patient displays symptoms which superstitious people believe are paranormal,” says Gautam. “Such patients are tortured, chained and used for extracting money from their families.”
Take the case of Hema. Until a few months ago, the postgraduate in English used to call herself Mrs Sonu Nigam, assuming to be the Bollywood singer’s wife. A clear case of schizophrenia. But, her family took her to Datar Sharif dargah near Ahmedabad. They believed an evil spirit was at play. She spent a year there, chained, pained. And it was only when her condition deteriorated to an extent that incontinence set in, her family brought her to Gautam. “In 15 days, Hema started improving and, now a month later, she is normal,” he says.
Businessman Sanjay of New Delhi, however, is still awaiting emancipation. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with mild mania. He was put on medication and his condition improved. But as soon as Sanjay stopped medication, the symptoms returned. Then, his father took him to Narhar Sharif dargah in Jhunjhunu district, Rajasthan.
“For three months, I have been chained here. I want to go back home and meet my doctor, but my father is not allowing me,” he says. “My father has been convinced by people here that I can go only when I get orders from the dargah.” Taking me to be a patient’s relative, Sanjay offers heart-felt advice: “Never bring anyone, under whatever circumstance, to the dargah.”
In the case of disorders like hysteria, a patient has a tendency to do whatever is suggested. Faith healers take advantage of it. Their sidekicks keep performing certain actions in front of the patient, who is likely to imitate the actions. The faith healers call this paishi or arzi, a process in which God talks to patients and heals them.
Some others, especially schizophrenics, are treated cruelly. Some are whipped or caned, some are made to inhale smoke from burnt chilli, some have chilli paste smeared into their eyes and some get branded with red hot coins. “I recently got a patient whose burn was just 2mm away from his windpipe,” says Gautam.
Despite laws banning the practice, many dargahs and temples keep patients chained. Some, for a lifetime. In 2001, a fire at a dargah in a coastal village, Erawadi, in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu charred to death 26 mental patients, who could not escape the blaze as they were chained.
Soon after the incident, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to conduct an all-India survey to identify registered and unregistered asylums. The court also ordered that each state government should establish at least one mental health hospital. But even today, states like Haryana still do not have a government mental hospital.

The unwanted

Thanks to official sloth and societal apathy, families of mentally ill people are increasingly opting for the easy way out: ‘dumping’.
A recent shocker came from Thrissur district in Kerala, where an illegal ‘asylum’ was busted. Thirty-five men and six boys from across India were rescued from inhuman conditions. Apparently, it was the stench from their unwashed bodies and excreta that made neighbours alert the health department.
As officials raided the asylum, they found naked and chained inmates, who had been dumped there by their families after paying the asylum owner. Some were found crawling in their excreta, some even consuming it. Their bodies bore marks of torture, and some had surgical scars on their backs, prompting allegations that the asylum had links with kidney thieves. Of 78 patients entered in the register, only 41 were found during the raid.
An even more shocking trend is of patients getting dumped in jungles, especially in the forest reserves of south India. Families, mostly from the north, pay lorry drivers to ‘drop’ these hapless victims, including children and women, in the forest ranges. Social activists in reserves such as Wayanad and Bandipur say drivers rape the female victims before dumping them at the mercy of nature.
“Before we term the families as ‘cruel’, we must look at what forces them to take such extreme steps,” says social activist Murugan S., who has lost count of the number of mentally ill people he has rescued from streets, railway stations and bus-stands across Kerala. And, finally, he concludes with what has become clichéd in Indian society: “The system needs a holistic change.”
with S. Neeraj Krishna

‘Plea of mental instability being misused as grounds for divorce’

English: Karnataka High Court, in Bangalore, I...

Image via Wikipedia

 ‘Show compassion’:Karnataka High Court judge N. Kumar speaking at a workshop on mental health awareness in Gulbarga on Sunday.

GULBARGA : Karnataka High Court judge N. Kumar on Sunday expressed anguish over the incidence of married couples seeking divorce on the grounds that either the wife or the husband was mentally unstable, and said that courts should be very careful while allowing such divorce petitions.

Inaugurating a workshop on Mental Health Awareness organised jointly by the Karnataka State Mental Health Authority, the district administration, Department of Health and Family Welfare and district judiciary here on Sunday, Mr. Kumar said the provision of mental instability as grounds for allowing divorce was being misused. He urged courts to thoroughly verify the doctor’s certificate while hearing such cases, and check whether the person accused of mental instability was really suffering from mental illness before allowing the petition for separation.

Mr. Kumar said that only cases where either the husband or the wife was “incurably of unsound mind” and or suffering from “continuous mental disorder” should be allowed, adding that divorce should only be allowed as a last resort.

Mr. Kumar said the replacing of joint families by nuclear families had resulted in the neglect of people with intellectual disabilities. It was the responsibility of society to show compassion towards them and help them to get the best possible treatment.

Rise in numbers

He expressed concern over the growing number of people afflicted with mental illness, and said that suicide among those with intellectual disabilities was on the rise. According to estimates, around 8 lakh of them ended their lives every year in the country, with the highest number in Bangalore, he said.

Music and Mental Health

Music has the power to influence people’s emotions; it can make them happy,sad, or angry. Music can also aid in the recovery of mental illnesses.

The Geriatric Mental Health Department of the Chhatarati Shahuju Maharaj Medical University in India is starting a music therapy clinic to treat elderly patients with mental disorders (like dementia). Nearly 5% of elderly people older than 60 suffer from dementia.

S.C. Tiwari, the head of the Geriatric Mental Health Department, said that music is found to have a positive impact on patients suffering from mental tension. Slow and melodious music soothes tension; rock, pop, and fast music should be avoided because of the negative emotions it can draw out, and it also raises blood pressure. So, soft, melodious, and soothing music is the way to go if you want to relieve your mental tension.

Not only can music therapy help people with mental illnesses, but playing an instrument and being a part of an ensemble can help, too.

Tunefoolery Concert Ensembles is a group of 50 musicians from Cambridge,Massachusetts, who are all living with a mental illness. The group helps musicians move away from the mental patient role into a new identity as a professional musician and performer.

“Tunefoolery is a great example of how non-traditional mental health treatment truly can change people’s lives,” said one of the band members.“Music is powerful medicine! I have a tremendous feeling of belonging with Tunefoolery. I have found great friends here. It’s a job and a creative outlet at the same time.

The members perform as solo acts or small ensembles; they play 75 to 90 gigs every year at mental health treatment programs, hospitals, nursing homes, and other locations. You can visit their website at http://www.tunefoolery.org.


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December 2022
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